At this church, the altar rail was a half-circle. When Grandma came back to our pew after taking communion, I asked “What happened to the other half of the railing?” She thought for a moment and said, “I know you can’t see it. It goes all around the altar. All those we love, and all who love Jesus with us, are kneeling at the other railing half that we can’t see. It makes a circle around Jesus.” She didn’t have to tell me that it included Grandpa and other townspeople I had never known but whose names were chiseled on stones outside in the cemetery. I still think of all the saints gathered at the table of our Lord whenever this holy meal is celebrated and Christ stretches out his arms to us.
Today we remember all the saints, those who are around us and those who have gone before. This message is adapted from “All Saints Day Reflection” written by Paul R. Nelson in the November 1998 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. Paul joined the saints on other side of the railing on October 31, 2000. Today we offer prayers of encouragement as the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton begins her service as presiding bishop of the ELCA.